From the Book of Winds and Catastrophic Weather
I hear my hometown in Iowa recently hit by derecho
has transformed into an obscure painting
by Giorgio De Chirico. As if the dead painter
made a living replica from the grave, en plein air,
left us an inexplicable posthumous masterpiece.
Corn rows buckled to bow echo.
Hundred mile per hour winds
left mannequins disquietingly posed
before the post office, now art deco.
Modest homes boast Italian arches.
The wind shear created fear,
and grand abandonment,
shook people head to feet.
Only elongated shadows loom
in what are now piazzas,
and empty arcades pervade the scene.
It’s all circa the early metaphysical work,
Say, The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street,
where only one shadowy figure dares push a hoop
and is chased by the blinding side of a building.
In the evening light, they say the grain elevator became
the tower from Nostalgia of the Infinite.
The ghosts of Ernst and Magritte
adorned ruined cornfields, unfathomable
scarecrows torn from the fabric of time,
speaking omnipotent dreams.
The horizon, a scalpel and raised eyebrow.
The sunset, an eye glued to un chien andalou.
Acres of silkenhaired onlookers
stood on one leg like flamingoes
and cheered for miles, seeing De Chirico
rescue the ultimate surrealist object
from forces he deemed cretinous and hostile.
It’s happened before. A closet door’s
hurriedly mistaken for exit–
and abracadabra, here you are, speechless
spokesman standing before a storeroom of CPR dummies.
Look at all those frozen eyes examining you
like they might applaud, or confuse you for a god–
but the room’s claustrophobic. And you’re at a loss–
how to greet a perpetually silent meeting
or convene this secret society’s proceedings?
How to engage a manikin’s fake, clandestine handshake
or read expressions always the same, that seem to be changing?
Right now they look like frantic victims who want to die,
who’d do anything to escape their paramedics.
This creepshow booth could only be complete
with doom’s sliding curtain, or absurd banner
unveiling this derailed occasion:
GREETINGS FROM THE MEANINGLESS MEETING…
What will happen next? Nothing. Yet you’re uncertain.
Not to mention they’re giving you their undivided attention.
Is it politesse, or satire mimicking your surprise?
You can’t decide. This audience of unblinking eyes
gape like they’ve been waiting all this time for you to arrive,
mouths wide open in an uncaring sigh. How can that
never-alive gaze fail to immobilize you in last gasp,
as if this dressing room crowd wants you in their grasp,
to stay here with their stare, stored, preserved forever?
Matt Schumacher edits the journal Phantom Drift and lives in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared recently in Whiskey Tit, Miracle Monocle, and The Journal.